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Rare Senate honor for Robert Byrd


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The Senate will come to a halt Thursday when the late Robert C. Byrd, the longest serving member in congressional history, receives a rare memorial before his beloved Senate chamber.

The West Virginia Senator, who served for 51 years, will lie in a closed casket, which will rest upon the same wooden catafalque that elevated Abraham Lincoln’s casket 145 years ago in the Capitol.

The Senate ceremony is the first staging area for a four-day funeral effort that will take Byrd’s body from the hallowed Senate chamber, to his home state of West Virginia for a memorial at a courthouse that bears his name, back to Andrews Air Force base in an airplane and finally to a resting ground in a private Arlington cemetery next to his wife of 69 years, Erma, who died in 2006.

The Senate galleries will remain open to the public during what promises to be a somber ceremony in the upper chamber Thursday, but the Senate will not be in session for a six-hour period.

Bringing the Senate to a halt? He'll be doing the most good he's ever done.
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